Spouse or Common-Law Partner
A spouse is a legal marriage partner. This term includes both opposite- and same-sex relationships but does not include common-law partnerships.
A common-law partner is a person who has been living with another person in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. The term refers to opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.
See the legal definition of common-law partner.
Spouse/partner Work Permits
Accompanying spouses or common-law partners of full-time international students are eligible for an open work permit, which means they do not need a job offer or a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada.
Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for a work permit if:
- you are a full-time student at an authorized post-secondary institution and
- you have a valid study permit.
- Full details of spousal work permit eligibility are available on the IRCC website.
How do we apply for their work permit?
Your spouse or common-law partner may submit an application for an open work permit together with your study permit application. Alternatively, if you are already in Canada as a student and your spouse now wishes to join you here, they may apply for a work permit before travelling to Canada.
Generally, to qualify as dependents, children must:
- be under 22 years old
- not have a spouse or common-law partner
Note: a child’s age is usually “locked-in” when IRCC receives a complete application. This means that when IRCC processes your child’s application, they use the age on lock-in date to see if your child qualifies as a dependent.
Use IRCC’s online tool to check if your child qualifies as a dependent.
Exception: Children who are at the age limit or older can qualify as “over-age” dependents if they
- have depended on their parents for financial support since before they reached the age limit and
- can’t financially support themselves due to a mental or physical condition.
Permits for Dependent Children
Your school-aged children (5-18 years of age) should also apply for study permits. These make the immigration process run more smoothly, especially if your child enters Canada without a parent. You should bring two years of official school records for your children, in English or with a certified English translation. Children under 5 will just require a visitor record.
Minor children intending to study are required to apply for a study permit before entering Canada. You can apply for their study permit online at the same time as your own through MyCIC.
Minor children already in Canada are authorized to study without a study permit at the pre-school, primary or secondary level if:
- they are either accompanying parents claiming refugee status or are claimants themselves;
- one of their parents (biological or adoptive) is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- one of their parents (biological or adoptive) is authorized to work or study in Canada; this includes temporary residents who are
- work permit holders,
- study permit holders,
- visitor status holders (e.g., visitor record holders) who are either authorized to work without a permit, as per section 186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), or authorized to study without a permit, as per section R188; or
- neither parent is physically in Canada.
Extension of Immigration Documents for Dependents
When extending immigration documents for your family members (e.g. work permit or visitor status for your spouse; visitor status or study permits for your children), please keep the following tips in mind:
- All dependents (including children) require their own documents.
- Documents must be extended before their expiry date.
- You can apply to extend your study permit, work permit and all the documents of your family members at the same time, online through MyCIC.
- Pay the appropriate fee for each family member.
- Visitor documents may include a stamp in the passport or a visitor record (looks like a study permit)
When you apply online, indicate that you have family members coming with you to Canada. This lets you complete their applications with yours.
Please check here for IRCC application processing times.
If your spouse or common-law partner has already entered Canada as a visitor and now wishes to extend their stay in Canada and/or apply for a work permit, please refer to the ‘Extension of Immigration Documents for Dependents’ section.